If you profess a love of cinema, but have been eschewing the excellent films coming out of Korea, you really have been missing out on some top-notch entertainment. I went into Han Jae-Rim’s movie The King, knowing only that it had been described as a political thriller. That covers about half of it – it’s also a satire about corruption within Korea’s legal system, it’s a gangster movie, it’s a revenge tale and yes, it’s a crime thriller too. If Wes Anderson decided to make ‘Goodfellas’ with Ben Wheatley, The King might just be the movie they’d have aspired to. Imagine that.
Before Umberto Lenzi’s 1981 exploitation film Cannibal Ferox (aka Make Them Die Slowly) was “banned in 31 countries”, Almost Human had a reputation as a particularly nasty Italian crime thriller.
The late, great Tomas Milian (The Designated Victim) stars as the sadistic, criminal low life Giulio Sacchi, a man capable of rape, torture and murder.
“CAUTION: This picture may shock you, but it’s an experience in psychosadism you’ll never forget!”
This film was typical of the drive-in features Claudia Jennings appeared in the early 1970’s, with one notable exception. Although Truck Stop Women demonstrated what audiences would identify as the quintessential Claudia Jennings character, this was no working class, feminist hero Karen Walker from Unholy Rollers… In this film, Claudia commits about every original sin and violates a few new ones. She could easily be considered one of the screen’s best villains- a living nightmare, having no feelings for fellow human beings, and perhaps the sexiest sociopath of all time.
“No rig was too big for them to handle!”
The South Korean film industry has enjoyed a twenty year renaissance especially in the thriller/horror/gore genres. The release of Oldboy (2003) put South Korean cinema back on the map, after seeing its once glorious traditions wane for many years. I Saw the Devil is the penultimate representative of this new style of Korean cinema, with acting, cinematography, direction and production values equal to any of the world’s leading movie centers.
“Don’t act so weak… this is just the beginning. Remember… your nightmare’s only getting worse!”
The best movies of the eighties either celebrated frivolity and gave us great entertainment, or rejected norms and pushed the boundaries towards broader innovations. Eighties indie movies were especially bold in this regard, and few directors tackled social and personal shape-shifting as deftly or entertainingly as Jonathan Demme.
The aptly titled, Something Wild gives us everything the eighties were famous for: laughs, sex, craziness, danger, secret lives, violence, drugs, nasty things in small towns and a great pop music soundtrack.
“Something Different. Something Daring. Something Dangerous.”
John Wick: Chapter 2 is a ride into hell, or, a hell of a ride – either way it’s going to drag you along with it, maybe gasping, maybe kicking and screaming, but either way, it’s an adrenalin rush. The John Wick movies are all about the momentum of action, with Wick moving so precisely, so speedily and yet so gracefully that it all becomes a mesmerising ballet of Grand Guignol.
A pre-credits action set-piece starts the movie as it means to go on, and cripes, if it isn’t an absolute corker!
“John Wick, you’re not very good at retiring.”
With Richard Donner’s Superman still a few years off from transforming comic cinema into a legit and lucrative genre, letting the audience in on the gag and addressing its protagonist’s more antiquated elements would have been a wise move. But outside of pausing every so often to superimpose a gleam across Ron Ely’s peepers or randomly announce a new, heretofore unknown talent of Doc’s, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze does little to deconstruct its parent property or its contemporaries in the world of crime-fighting fiction. Producer George Pal took a chance on a big-screen throwback.
“Have no fear! Doc Savage is here!”
Back in the late 80s/early 90s I was not allowed to watch the many horror films that adorned the plastic shelving of my local video store. Some might say that is wise parenting, considering I was only 5 or 6 at the time. But strangely action films were deemed ok to view (such as substandard fare from Cannon Pictures and Guild Video).
“Look, there’s a lot of us working to make a bad world better. Remember that.”
Cesar Romero’s portrayal of The Joker as Batman’s greatest enemy was memorable to say the least.
Known for his sharp wit and malevolent laugh, The Joker was constantly escaping Arkham Asylum and a relentless threat to Gotham City.
“Have you heard this one? It’ll *kill* you, Batman!”
When a new era of Asian horror films entered mainstream Western cinema with Hideo Nakata’s ‘The Ring’, Asian horror movies were soon perceived to be chasing Hollywood’s more hackneyed horror efforts into the shadows.
“This kind of thing… it doesn’t start by one person telling a story. It’s more like everyone’s fear just takes on a life of its own.”
Horror fans nowadays are spoiled rotten. They’ve grown up with fancy special effects and boundary-pushing thematic content packaged with the latest genre titles, whereas viewers way back when made do with the main actor staring at everyone as a movie’s big draw.
“His lust for voodooism spells D-O-O-M!”
In 1971 JVC put together a team to develop a consumer-based VTR, but by early 1972 the video recording industry in Japan began to struggle financially. JVC was forced to restructure their video division, effectively shelving the VCR project. However, JVC engineers Yuma Shiraishi and Shizuo Takano continued to work on the project in secret. By 1973 the two engineers had produced a functional prototype.